My Twitter feed delivered the shocking news that Hillman Curtis had died. I never met the man—I don’t even think I’ve ever watched an interview with him—but he had a profound influence on my filmmaking style. Especially my documentary work.
It was the middle of 2010, I had spent close to a year documenting the goings-on behind the scenes of a Bollywood movie. I had bought a camera to take along (because I was too naïve to consider the possibility that the production company might pay to rent one for me) so I had the acquisition tool for getting pretty decent looking video. That is when I remembered Mr. Curtis’s short documentaries with creative people and how fascinating they had been to watch. So I decided to make my own (with art galleries and artists).
Mr. Curtis was already an inspiration to me from my days as a web designer. I was further impressed when he reinvented himself as a filmmaker; and then I was blown away by his delicately beautiful fiction shorts. Through finely observed ideas and pitch perfect performances and he was able to tell a series of compelling short stories.
This film is a stellar example:
While other people referenced Hitchcock, Kubrick, Spielberg or Lucas I would tell them about filmmakers like Hillman Curtis. Because I believed that work like his was a better road map for beginners like us rather than the works of the great masters from eras past.
I think Mr. Curtis had a lot more teaching left in him, through his books and his works. I believe the independent filmmaking world has lost an important voice.
Thank you for the inspiration, and the education, Mr. Curtis. It meant an enormous amount to us.
Here is a film, by the man himself, about his work.